A PROLIFIC shoplifter who had spent 22 of his 49 years behind bars was saved from another prison sentence by a glowing report from the probation service.

Blackburn magistrates heard Stewart Entwistle had been co-operating with the service during a lengthy period of prison licence and they had decided not to recall him until the end of his current sentence in January 2022.

Entwistle, 49, of Oaks Lodge, Colne Road, Burnley, pleaded guilty to stealing alcohol worth £350 from Sainsbury's and theft of £150 cash from a shop till. He was made subject to a community order for six months with a mental health treatment requirement and ordered to pay £350 compensation to Sainsbury's and £150 compensation to Bridge Street Cash and Carry.

Leigh Morgan, prosecuting, said Entwistle entered Sainsbury's at 9.30pm and then left via a fire escape.

When staff checked CCTV it showed him filling a bag with bottles of alcohol and then going out via the fire exit which was damaged in the process.

Hassan Sheikh, owner of the Bridge Street Cash and Carry was in his shop in April 25. He left the till for a short while and when he returned and served a customer realised money had been removed. CCTV showed Entwistle leaning over the counter, opening the till and removing the cash.

Ms Morgan said Entwistle had 41 previous convictions for 144 offences, 65 five of them theft related. He had been sentenced to four years in prison for burglary in June 2018 and was on licence until January.

Julie Dunn, for the probation service, said that because of his high level of co-operation with prison licence Entwistle was not being recalled.

"He will be receiving a final warning and should he re-offend between now and the end of his licence he will be recalled," she said.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said he had expected a prison recall to be put in place.

"Of the 49 years he has been on this planet he has spent 22 in prison," said Mr Taylor.

"The probation service are prepared to continue working with him because of his good response to prison licence and that speaks volumes.

"If there are any slip ups he will be going back to prison at the very least until the end of his licence in January."